Dining With Denise Neil

Toni D’s Too closing after 26 years, new cafe will take over Epic Center space

A new restaurant is opening in the atrium of the Epic Center, 301 N. Main.
A new restaurant is opening in the atrium of the Epic Center, 301 N. Main. File photo

A new restaurant is taking over the space in the Epic Center where Toni D’s Too has operated since 1990.

Parsnipity Cafe, owned by longtime cook Cynthia Wilson and her husband, Craig Bjork, should open in the atrium of the building at 301 N. Main sometime in August, Wilson said. Toni D’s Too will continue operating for a few more weeks. It will likely close at the end of the month.

Dan Shadid, who has run the restaurant on his own since his wife and the restaurant’s namesake, Toni Shadid, died in December at age 57, said he decided it was time for a new chapter in his life.

“Business is slow down here,” he said. “It’s just tough. It’s time to move on.”

The Shadids originally opened their catering business and deli in Carriage Parkway and ran it for 30 years before closing it in 2014. They consolidated their two businesses in the Epic Center.

Shadid said it was hard to let the restaurant go, but it was necessary.

“It is a lot of memories,” he said. “You know, life marches on. I’m chugging along, putting one foot in front of another. It’s just time to move on. Things have changed, and life has changed.”

Once Toni D’s closes, Wilson and Bjork will begin renovating the space. Parsnipity Cafe will serve a mixture of healthy salads and sandwiches as well as comfort food dishes. It will also serve breakfast.

Wilson’s menu will include items like pulled pork, Italian meatball subs, and lumpia, which are Filipino egg rolls. She’ll have daily specials, rotating soups and salads and vegetarian options every day. Breakfast offerings will include fried cornmeal mush sticks with maple syrup, avocado power bread toast and a bacon cheese omelet wrap.

She has a Facebook page for the cafe, where she’s posted pictures of many of the menu items she’s planning.

“I’m very conscious of people’s health, but at the same time, everything is going to be really delicious, too,” she said.

Wilson is a seasoned cook who has offered cooking classes inside her house and also has had recipes published in national magazines, like Food Network Magazine and Bon Appetit. Her husband has experience as a general manager of Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants. He’ll handle the business, and she’ll handle the kitchen.

Wilson said she and Bjork were big fans of “The Great Food Truck Race” on Food Network and considered opening a food truck. Then, she said, the opportunity to open in the Epic Center came up.

The cafe’s name came to her in a dream, back when she was thinking about the food truck.

“I had a dream that I opened one and called it Parsnipity,” she said. “That was two years ago.”

The restaurant will be set up in the atrium of the Epic Center. It will serve workers in the building but also will be open to the public.

The atrium has seating for 100, she said.

“Everybody has has to walk through the dining room from the parking lot to the elevators,” she said. “If I have good smells, they’re going to want to know what’s cooking.”